Pessimism and optimism over the EU's future were both being played out this week in Brussels. As EU Foreign Ministers faltered again over the projected Constitutional Treaty, a radical new think-paper was being delivered to the European Commission.

Prospects for early resolution of the just-resumed Inter-Governmental Conference on the new Treaty have receded after this week's discussions.

But a hundred metres from the Council of Ministers, French Senator Dominique Strauss-Kahn was urging even more far-reaching changes, as he outlined fifty proposals for "the Europe of Tomorrow".

After chairing a round table of European wise men that European Commission President Romano Prodi set up eighteen months ago, Mr Strauss-Kahn is ready to break all the taboos, even those that the IGC hasn't dared to deal with.

He wants a much bigger EU budget, "fiscal federalism", intensified integration among consenting member states, and modifications competition policy to allow the creation of European "champions".

This is the sort of change he says is vital to ensure that Europe can withstand global pressures in 50 years from now. And his bottom line is that those who don't want to join in should stay outside.

The enthusiasm from this former minister is unlikely, however, to offer much encouragement to Heads of State...

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